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Even though the chance of an upcoming NFL lockout is a possibility, any teams that have a serious chance of contention for the Super Bowl should sign ex Pittsburg Steeler and New York Giant Palxico Burress the minute he becomes available. It is anyone’s guess how long such a lockout would last. Currently, an eight game season is being discussed; a shortened season would no doubt give Burress enough time to get in playing shape.
Although many people are questioning whether Burress is worth signing after his recent stint in prison, his past team’s (the Giants) stats potentially give reason to believe that he was a giant contributor to the Giants’ success. The Giants’ stats during Burress’s three and a half seasons with the team prove that he had a positive impact on the team’s performance, both during the regular season and the playoffs. ESPN’s Matt Ehalt, displays these stats in detailed manner, in a recent blog of his. According to the stats on Ehalt’s blog, the Giants’ record without Burress was a bleak 19-17 with a record of 0-1 in the playoffs. The Giants’ record with Burress was a major improvement at 40-20 and a record of 4-2 in the playoffs. The Giants record was undoubtedly better with Burress in the lineup. The Giants were twenty games above the 500 mark with Burress compared with just two games above the 500 mark without him. Additionally, against both the NFC and the AFC the Giants had a grim mark of 500 without Burress.
Clearly, there are those people out there who might not take these team stats as direct proof of Burress’s individual talent as a player or of his ability to be a valuable contribution to an NFL team. However, Burress’s personal stats also speak volumes about his worth and his presence as a deep threat receiver.
Burress has been quite durable during his nine seasons in the NFL; between the Steelers’ and the Giants’, Burress has played in at least fifteen games or more, six out of the nine seasons. The three seasons in which Burress played fewer than fifteen games were in 2000-01, 2004-05 and 2008-09. Burress played in at least 10 games during all three of these seasons.
In terms of his presence as a deep threat receiver it is important to stack Burress up against the best deep threat receivers in the game today. Despite both entering the decline of their career, arguably the two best wide receivers to ever play the game are Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Owens and Moss are undoubtedly two of the best deep threats to ever play Football. Although Owens’s and Moss’s speed may be on the decline as they continue to age, their physique in regards to length, strength and athletic ability are still difference makers for any team. Burress definitely has the length, strength and athletic ability to be a deep threat receiver even if he is in a similar stage of his career to Moss and Owens. In regards to Burress’s skill set, former NFL scout Russ Lande of SportingNews.com says in a recent article,
“Burress has always relied on his 6-5 size and very good all-around athleticism—and that will not change in his re-entry. In the past, he had the body control, balance, coordination, jumping ability and hands to make acrobatic catches look routine. He did an excellent job of using his size, strength, athleticism and ball skills to catch Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s passes even when a cornerback was draped all over him. ”
In the article, Lande also adds that Burress’s skills were never based on his speed, saying, “the thing that affects aging receivers most—loss of speed—won’t be a big issue for Burress because speed has never been a key component in his game.”
There is no doubt Burress has had better years than others for the Giants. However, if you look at his individual contributions during his last full seasons in 07’- 08’, before he was suspended mid way through the 08’-09’ season, his capability to produce is undeniable. 07’-08’ was Burress’s best year since he entered the NFL. The website advancednflstats.com, which is run by noted football researcher and analyst Brian Burke, demonstrates that Burress has the talent and capability of being one of the top five receivers in the NFL if he performs like he did in 07’-08’. The website clearly displays Burress’s tremendous impact on the Giants’ 2007 season, in which they won the Super Bowl. As shown on advancednflstats.com, for the 2007 season, Burress ranked fourth best among receivers’. Burress had a Success Rate (SR) of 48.9 percent during the 2007 season. As defined on Burkes website SR is “the proportion of plays in which a player was directly involved that would typically be considered successful”. Burress’s Catch Rate (CR) for the 2007 season was 48.4 percent. As defined on the website CR is, “the proportion of plays in which a player was directly involved that would typically be considered successful”. In 2007 Burress’s SR and CR were almost 50 percent! Though Moss, the best player in 2007, blew Burress away with a SR of 59.3 percent—about 10 percent higher than Burress’s, Moss’s CR was 53.0 percent, only 5 percent higher than Burress’s.
Another interesting category on Burke’s website that shows Burress’s huge impact in 2007 is Win Probability Added per Play (WPA/P). As defined on Burkes website WPA/P is, “The average Win Probability Added per play in which an offensive player is directly involved. WPA/P is a measure of an individual player’s impact on the outcome of his games, on a per play basis”. It is important to mention that the scale for WPA/P includes negative and positive numbers. More specifically if the number zero represents an average player, any player below would be below average and any player above would be above average. Burress’s WPA/P for 2007 was one of the four best in the league at 0.09, a huge leap from his WPA/P in 2000 his first year in the NFL, which was a terrible -0.07! Randy Moss, the best player in 2007 had a WPA/P only four points higher than Burress!
If Plaxico Burress can recapture his 2007 performance he will be an invaluable piece to any team that is just on the cusp of being a championship contender. There is little doubt that Burress will have something to prove to all his doubters and naysayers. If Burress’s talents that were on display in 2007 are combined with go-getter attitude this could result in a perfect storm for his opponents. If Burress ends up going to a team as formidable as the Patriots or the Packers, look for him to be wearing his second Super Bowl ring at the end of the season.